Hello, friends, and welcome! Today I’m going to show you how to make a fantastic, French-style mixed berry jam recipe. It only uses the pectin already contained in the fruit. This is also fairly low-sugar compared to some jam recipes, so the flavor of the fruit really comes out.
Try it on some sprouted wheat English muffins or smeared on some soft Tangzhong pain au lait. You’re going to love it.
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What Makes This a French-Style Jam?
The short answer is that this jam is packed with fruit, is lower in sugar than a traditional American-style jam, and doesn’t have extra pectin in it.
It’s thickened only with the natural pectin present in the fruit and the thickening you get from reducing the jam on the stove.
NOTE: By and large, traditional French jams are made using just one type of fruit, so this mixed berry version is a hybrid, but it’s a delicious hybrid!
So What Makes This Easy?
A full-on traditional French jam takes a couple of days to make. You let the fruit hang out in sugar for several hours to overnight, then there’s a quick boil.
Then there’s straining out the juices and reserving the fruit.
Then there’s another boil the next day.
So while old-school French jam isn’t hard to make, it does take some time.
This mixed berry jam recipe employs a much shorter maceration period–just enough to coax some of the juices out of the fruit–with a hard, fast boil so you can have jam the same day you think to yourself, “Hey, I think I’d like to make some jam!”
How to Make It
Here’s what you’ll need:
- mixed berries: I used a combination of fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Although I only had 6 ounces of raspberries, the jam really tastes mostly like raspberry jam. Go figure!
- granulated sugar: Provides sweetness and “setability” as well as helping draw moisture out of the fruit to soften it and provide intense flavor
- lemon juice: Helps adjust the pH of the jam allowing it to set. Plus the lemon provides just the right amount of tartness to balance the sweetness
This jam is really easy to make. I promise. Here’s how to do it.
- Wash: Start with clean berries, so give them a nice rinse. Since I was using strawberries that were a lot larger than the blueberries and raspberries, I cut them in half or sometimes into quarters. This also has the added benefit of slicing open the plant cells making it much easier for the sugar to get the juices flowing
- Macerate the fruit: This is just a fancy way of saying “let the fruit hang out in the sugar and lemon juice.” I think I let mine sit about 4 hours or so. Even an hour will help the juices flow, but the longer you can let the fruit macerate–up to 24 hours or so–the more intensely fruity your jam will be
- Mash as much or as little as you want: You can leave all the fruit whole to have more of a preserve, but I like the texture of a jam, so I used my potato masher to mash up some of the fruit so I had pulpy, jammy goodness along with some whole fruit
- Boil: Bring to a boil in a pan that’s wider than it is tall (if you have one). The larger surface area allows the jam to get to setting temperature more quickly and help avoid an overly cooked flavor to your jam. But if all you have is a narrower pot, go for it. Your jam will still be delicious even if it takes a bit longer to cook.
Macerating: It Really Is Easy
Here’s how you macerate, with photos! Super easy:
- Start with rinsed berries. Cut down larger fruits so all the pieces are roughly the same size.
- Combine the sugar and lemon juice with the fruit.
- Stir to mix evenly.
- Slap on a lid–you can use a silicone one like I did here, or cover with foil or plastic wrap, use a lidded container or be super French and cut a round of parchment to set down on top of the fruit–and walk away. Let the fruit do its thing. If it’s cool in your kitchen and you’re macerating for only a few hours (say up to 6 or so), it’s fine to do this at room temperature. During the summer, or if macerating for a longer period of time, refrigerate the macerating fruit
Tips for Success
This jam is fairly foolproof to make, but here are some tips for making sure it comes out beautifully every time you make it.
I strongly urge you to get a scale. That way, no matter what proportion of sugar to fruit you decide to go with, you’ll be able to accurately weigh it. I love my Escali Primo scale and use it every day.
Testing Jam without a Thermometer
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can put 2-3 small plates in your freezer and use that to test your jam. Here’s how:
- After 10-15 minutes of boiling, put a spoonful of jam on one of the cold plates.
- Put the plate back in the freezer for a minute or so.
- Push the little blob of jam with your finger. If it wrinkles up, it’s good to go. If not, or if it’s still very runny, allow it to boil for another 5-10 minutes and then test again using another of the plates from the freezer.
French Jam Q & A
Here’s a great recipe for strawberry jam made over 2 days. Technically, it’s a preserve since all the fruit is kept whole. This kind of jam is magical, so if you have the time and patience, do give it a try!
The way I’ve written the recipe, this is a rather low-sugar jam. I used 1/2 the weight of the berries in sugar. I had 2 pounds of berries, so I used 1 pound of sugar. You can also use a higher proportion of sugar and most likely end up with a jam that sets with less cooking and also one that will keep longer under refrigeration. You can use 3/4 of the weight of the berries in sugar or even 1:1, so for 2 pounds of fruit, you’d use 2 pounds of sugar. For my money, my jam was plenty sweet enough and has a ton of berry flavor.
I am not a canner. I do know that many folks in France can their jam using the inversion method, which is just to pour the jam into clean jars with very little headspace and then turn them upside down. If they seal, they’re good to go on the shelf. If not, refrigerate them. This method is not an approved method here in the US. For food safety consult the USDA’s Center for Home Food Preservation guide for the proper amount of both sugar and acid in your jam along with the Rules for canning.
Aside from making the best peanut butter and jelly or jelly toast on the planet, use this as a cake filling, as a filling for raspberry donuts, to make a traditional English trifle, to sandwich macarons, etc. Enjoy it in as many ways as possible!
Since my jam is a lower-sugar French-style jam, it should be fine for a few weeks–say a month–in the fridge.
If you have a question/questions about this or any other post, whether recipe or technique, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m happy to help.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I will respond within 24 hours. If you need an answer more urgently, please email me, and I will respond within about 4 hours (unless I’m sleeping) and often much more quickly than that.
Either way, I will answer as completely as I can. That’s why I’m here!
I probably don’t really need to tell you how to use jam, but I do have some recipes this jam will go perfectly with. Take your pick, and enjoy!
My grits bread toasts up beautifully, and it would absolutely be delicious spread with butter and some of this jam.
Use the jam as the filling in sandwich cookies. It would be pretty spectacular used to sandwich together my raspberry shortbread sandwich cookies.
Trifle is one of my favorite desserts. Use the jam as a layer in my Auntie Ev’s traditional English trifle recipe.
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- 2 pounds mixed berries: I used a combination of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries
- 1 pound granulated sugar (about 2 cups, but weigh using a scale if possible)
- juice of 1 lemon
- Rinse all the berries well.
- If using fruit of unequal size, slice the larger fruits it half or quarters.
- Combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Stir well to distribute the sugar throughout.
- Cover the bowl and let sit at cool room temperature for 4 hours. You can also allow the fruit to sit for longer, but if it's warm in your kitchen, place the bowl in the fridge.
- If you don't have a thermometer, place 2-3 saucers in the freezer to use to check the set of your jam.
- When done macerating, transfer the berries and all the juices to a wide pot.
- Use a potato masher to mash up the berries as much or as little as you'd like to get the texture you want in your jam.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. To keep your jam sparkling clear, spoon off any foamy stuff that bubbles up and discard.
- Allow the berries to boil at a full, rolling boil, stirring frequently. Juices will thicken and reduce.
- After about 20 minutes, check the temperature. You're looking for 220-221F. If you don't have a thermometer, take one of the saucers out of the freezer and drop a little bit of jam on the cold plate. Put back in the freezer for a minute, and then push the little blob of jam with your finger. If it wrinkles up, you're good to go. If not, cook for a few minutes longer and then test again.
- Once the jam is a good texture, pour into clean jars or 1 big jar and allow to cool.
- Store in the fridge for up to a month. Eat on all the things.
You can use up to an equal weight of sugar and fruit if you prefer. The jam will have a firmer set and may take less time to reach temperature.
Nutrition InformationYield 80 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 25Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 0gSugar 6gProtein 0g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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